In 2007, I signed up for Facebook. At the time, it seemed like a cool way to find out what my friends were doing. The format was a lot nicer than MySpace and it had some good features. It was neat to find out what my friends were eating for breakfast that morning, and discover what awesome things they were doing in their lives. And it was a convenient way to message all of my friends at once. Facebook was also a way I could reach out to people when social anxiety and geographic isolation didn’t allow me to reach them in real life. If it weren’t for the reassurance of my friends during my hardest times, I don’t know where I would be.
Flash forward to 2013, however, and Facebook is a completely different place. I can’t log on to Facebook anymore without being bombarded with ads, idiotic memes, and constant dispatches from the “culture war.” I scroll down a bit and inevitably I’ll find something a friend forwarded about some right-wing idiot who hates gays, or some bigoted Republican congressman who wants to reduce women into nothing but baby-making machines who need their vaginas regulated by Congress, or some asshole in a restaurant who gave their server a shitty tip, and I will get outraged, and become fixated by the vile injustices being perpetrated by these jerks, and inevitably my anger over something I can’t control and didn’t actually witness will spill upon the Facebook page.
When I put my opinion into the Facebook machine, what happens? One of my commenters will start ranting about how I’m either evil or deluded by the mass media, and then another person will start attacking them and telling them how they’re either stupid or deluded by right-wing talk radio, and then before you know it, there’s a battle going on in my Facebook wall, when all I wanted to say was “Doesn’t it suck how people can be so mean sometimes?”
Our talk has become so politicized and polemicized and commercialized that we can’t even have a decent conversation without drawing battle lines in the sand. I don’t care if my friends are Democrats or Republicans, left-wing or right-wing, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist, or Cthulhuist. There are more than two sides to every argument, and even if there is a “right” way and a “wrong” way to do things, I would seriously hope that we could agree to disagree without resorting to name-calling and hurt feelings.
I still love to come on and read about the good things that are happening in my friends’ lives, but thanks to Facebook’s algorithms that somehow decide what is “most important” for me to see, I don’t even know if I am even reading all my friends’ posts or if they are reading all of mine. I never hear anything from half of the people on my friends list — I don’t know if this is because they’re not posting anything, or if Facebook is censoring their messages from me. And I have no clue who’s actually reading me. Lately people from work, who I didn’t even know were even on my Facebook, have been discussing things I’ve posted on my wall and jumping to conclusions about them, when they could have just asked me about them first.
I have other gripes towards Facebook, namely the whole information-gathering and selling our private data to the NSA and all, but I have no need to go into those now. The important thing is that my continued participation on this forum is detrimental to my emotional health and my real-life social relationships.
I am not deleting my Facebook profile just yet. I have too many friends here and I don’t have emails and phone numbers for all of them. For all its problems, Facebook is still the most convenient way to reach you guys. But I am not going to be posting much on here anymore. I’m going to be doing my blogging on http://thewanderingnerd.com from now on. (It links to https://thewanderingnerd.wordpress.com right now though, because I can’t for the life of me figure out how to run WordPress on my own web hosting provider.) I am also going to be reducing my Facebook friends list to close friends only, but if you find yourself cut out, don’t be too upset with me. You can still join me at http://thewanderingnerd.com.
And if you have some news you just *have* to tell me, don’t trust I will receive it through Facebook, as I will be checking Facebook but rarely from now on. My email is (my real first name) [at] thewanderingnerd [dot] com. If you want to send it encrypted, please contact me for my PGP public key. Anyway, thank you all for your love and friendship over the years, and may you all have a great holiday season.
Jackson (aka The Wandering Nerd)